Get in the saddle

Ahead of the Tour of Britain arriving in Northumberland on the 4th September our friends at Cottages in Northumberland have shared five of the best cycling routes in the area.

Cottages in Northumberland are passionate about the breath-taking beauty of the North East – and their home-from-home holiday cottages provide the perfect base for visitors to explore all that this amazing region has to offer.

Sandstone Way

One of our favourite biking routes, the Sandstone Way straddles the border of Northumberland National Park, taking you through gorgeous green forests and pretty towns. From Berwick-upon-Tweed to Hexham, Sandstone Way is a 120-mile route suitable for intermediate or experienced riders.

Though the challenging sections of this route are few and far between, the distance itself can be demanding for cyclists who haven’t attempted a long-distance ride and the terrain can be rough at times.

Take on Sandstone Way for iconic evolving landscapes, ancient historical sites and small communities dotted throughout. This route is definitely rewarding, and you’d be hard pressed to find another path that offers such a variety of this county’s famous scenery and memorable.

Kielder Forest

Kielder Water and Forest Park is a jewel nestled in the heart of Northumberland. Kielder Lake is the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at 250 miles, Kielder Forest is the largest in England. Boasting super off-road tracks and scenic family-friendly paths, Kielder is great for groups of all sizes and abilities.

A man and wan riding mountain bikes at Kielder reservoir

There are many routes here, but we’d recommend The Bloody Bush if you’re feeling adventurous. At around 20 miles each way, this route takes you through wild terrain and promises stunning views over the surrounding areas. It should be noted that this trail isn’t for the light-hearted – as some parts can be extremely strenuous, so only take it on if you’re an experienced long-distance rider or you have previous experience cycling medium distances off-road.

For families, the much more accessible Borderline Cycle Trail is roughly 7 miles in length and follows a much easier path – making use of a now disused railway line that stretches northwards. Whichever trail you choose, visit Kielder and you’ll be guaranteed to see what makes Northumberland one of the most scenic places in the British Isles.

Coast to Coast

A legendary route spanning the width of England, take on the Coast to Coast and you’ll work your way from the Irish Sea on the west coast of Cumbria all the way to the North Sea on the east coast of Tyne & Wear.

Four men riding road bikes on a road in the National Park

Along the way, you’ll ride through much of Northumberland’s impressive rural scenery and stop off at many of the region’s charming villages too. At nearly 140 miles, this is one of the most famous long-distance cycling routes in Britain. If that sounds a little too far for you, the route can easily be chopped into smaller, more manageable sections for a family day out.

Whether you challenge yourself to the full 140-mile stint or you just take on a smaller section, the Coast to Coast route promises to be an adventure from start to finish.

Coast and Castles

You definitely don’t want to miss out on visiting the Northumberland coast while you’re in the area. With miles upon miles of idyllic sandy beaches and some of the region’s most iconic ancient castles standing proudly by the shore, the Northumberland coastline is undeniably picture-perfect. The Coast and Castles route, stretching all the way from the Scottish Borders at Berwick-upon-Tweed to the mouth of the River Tyne at Tynemouth encompasses some of the greatest views and sights in Northern England.

visitors at Alnwick Castle

For locals or visitors staying in Northumberland, you can easily cut down the route into a day-long ride from Bamburgh to Amble. Starting at Bamburgh Castle, you’ll pass through the seaside town of Seahouses before riding through Embleton, Craster and Alnmouth on quiet country trails. If you’re up for the challenge of riding the entire Coast and Castles route, there are plenty of picturesque places to stop off en route. Slightly off this path but well worth the 4-mile trip inland from Alnmouth, Alnwick is brimming with shops, sights and welcoming locals. You’ll also find home-from-home, cosy cottages in Alnwick, where you can rest and rejuvenate after a long day of riding.

Harwood Forest

Tucked into the green conifers of Northumberland National Park, the cycling journey through Harwood Forest is perfect for a fun family day out. This forest is an absolute must for cyclists on the hunt for a quiet route – as you’ll find few people here but plenty of beautiful scenery.

Harwood Forest

The trail through this secluded forest is around 27 miles long, though there are dozens of other off-road tracks you could use if you were looking for a more substantial challenge. With no traffic, few people and, if you’re lucky, a few deer to spot, this is a sanctuary for nature lovers or for those just looking to get away from busy city life.

Northumberland is brimming with stunning scenery – and, on a bike, you can take advantage of the quiet trails meandering their way throughout the area. In Northumberland, you’re never far away from remote forests, unspoilt stretches of coastline or fascinating historical sites – and, by taking on our favourite cycle routes, you’ll be sure to see plenty of them along the way.